Prime minister to tell housebuilders to do their duty

Theresa May will announce plans to penalise property developers who do not build homes quickly enough as she uses a major speech to warn housebuilders they must “do their duty to Britain”.

The Prime Minister will point the finger of blame at developers who sit on land once it has been approved for development, waiting for its value to rise, and who profit from building expensive properties rather than the high number of new homes the country needs. She will tell them it is time to “step up and do your bit”. 

She will vow to “rewrite the laws on planning” in order to help more people on to the housing ladder. It is not acceptable, she will say, that housing should be unaffordable to anyone unable to draw on “the bank of mum and dad”.

The prime minister will call the “national housing crisis” one of the biggest barriers to social mobility and argue that she “cannot bring about the kind of society I want to see” without tackling it.

“In a market where lower supply equals higher prices, that creates a perverse incentive, one that does not encourage [developers] to build the homes we need,” she will say. 

Although the number of planning permissions being granted has risen since 2010, the PM will say this has not been matched by a corresponding rise in the number of homes being built.

While the planning rules need to be simplified to make it easier to bring forward land for development and to fast-track approvals, she will also say that councils should be allowed to take firms’ past development records into consideration when deciding whether to approve projects. 

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Today, said that builders would no longer be able to “wriggle out” of their commitments on affordable housing by negotiating down units once granted planning permission. 

“How we make housing properly affordable for everyone is by building a lot more,” he said.  

Up to 80 proposals set out in last year's housing white paper will now be implemented, including requiring councils to adopt a new nationwide standard that shows how many homes they need to plan for in their area.

But Mrs May will insist that “tearing up” the Green Belt is not the answer to the UK's housing crisis and that existing protections will be maintained and, in some cases, strengthened. Labour wants action to address what it says is a 30-year low in home ownership and the doubling of rough sleeping.

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